Dubai's Mamo secures licence to operate from DIFC as demand for digital payments surges

The company raised $8m in a round led by Global Ventures last month

DIFC Gate building. Courtesy Dubai International Financial Centre Authority
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FinTech company Mamo secured a licence to operate from the Dubai International Financial Centre, a move that would allow the start-up to test its products under conditions defined by the free zone's regulator.

The innovation testing licence was granted to Mamo by the DIFC’s regulator, the Dubai Financial Services Authority, the company said on Tuesday.

“We are empowering users, through our Mamo Pay app, with a simpler, faster, friendlier way to send and receive money instantly,” said Mohammed El Saadi, chief executive and co-founder of Mamo.

"Our ambition is to add value, strengthen the financial ecosystem and accelerate the future of finance in the UAE and beyond."

Last month, Mamo raised $8 million in a funding round led by UAE-based venture capital firm Global Ventures to boost its digital payment services and expand its operations in the Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The start-up's other backers include New York venture capital firm 4DX Ventures, Saudi Arabia's AlRajhi Partners, Boston's Olive Tree Capital and investors from Silicon Valley.

"We are delighted to welcome Mamo to our community, which is now the largest cluster of finance, FinTech and innovation companies in the region and provides Mamo with the ecosystem to achieve their growth ambitions," said Salmaan Jaffery, chief business development officer at the DIFC Authority.

FinTech companies such as Mamo have benefitted from a coronavirus-fuelled surge in digital payments as fear of contagion led users to shun cash.

About $135m was invested in Mena's FinTechs last year – the highest amount since 2017, according to Magnitt.

The peer-to-peer payments space in the Middle East is expected to grow to $115 billion by 2023, from $22bn in 2019, according to Mamo.

Mamo said there are 1.7 million unbanked people in the UAE, which is 32 per cent of the total working population.

"Mamo will address this segment and provide access to the broader financial system in line with a vision for financial inclusivity and independence," the company said.